Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Accommodating Belief in the Workplace.

I have been reading a lot of stories lately where employees are suing their employers for human rights violations.
For making them do things that are against their beliefs. (Like the JOB that they were hired to do.)

It is happening enough that I am starting to feel boxed in by their arrogance.


It’s a trade off, you do your work, I will do my best to accommodate your beliefs. Employers SHOULD ensure that a persons right to believe whatever they want is not violated, and not place an employee in any position where he is asked to go against his beliefs. Unless that means that means that they violate the contract of the position they agreed to uphold.
Employees on the other hand SHOULD do the job that they agreed to do, and leave their personal beliefs out of it.

It is not about the practitioner, it is about the patient.
It’s not about the teacher, it is about the student.
It’s not about the bus driver, it is about the passenger.

If it is not illegal, then you have an obligation to the person seeking the service that you are supposed to provide.
If you are working at a place that offers a service and you never plan of doling out that service, then what you are doing is lying in wait. Lying in wait for your morality play victim to appear so that you can turn them away in your self righteousness, so that you can openly judge them and so that you can openly force your opinions on other people.

And I do mean force.

They have no choice but to be victim to your predator, for they have trusted in the ethical offering of services that your establishment provides and opened up their private lives to you in order to get it.

The shop brings them in, you knock them down.

Easy pickings, right?

Wrong. You should be fired. And possibly charged with harassment for your actions.

Harassment you ask?

Isn’t that harsh?
No, it isn’t. They have chosen to work in a field that contradicts their beliefs, and taken a job that places them in a position where they are entrusted with people in possibly very vulnerable positions. These people trust that the institutions will respect that trust and act according to their mandate.

These workers KNOW that they will have to serve these people, and they KNOW ahead of time that they will deny them. Thereby violating the trust of the customer who opened him/herself up to seek that service.

By knowing and still choosing the job, they are planning to violate the trust inherent in the position before they work even a single day.
They are planning on giving judgment and explaining whey they simply can’t do as they are asked.
In short they are planning on ambushing these trusting people, and judging them openly when they are at their most vulnerable.


For these people to cry discrimination, or a that their rights have been violated by being asked to do the job that they agreed to do is ridiculous.

If you are a pharmacist and you can’t issue some legal drugs on religious grounds, then you can’t be a pharmacist. It is that simple. You can’t fulfill the duties that you are asked to fulfill. You don’t get to decide what people’s stance on abortion or birth control should be.

The law does.

If you are a bus driver who refuses to drive people where they want to go, then you can’t be a bus driver. You don’t get to decide where people are and aren’t allowed to go.

The law does.

If you are a teacher and you violate the sanctity of trust that the parents place in you by teaching YOUR beliefs instead of evidence based science, then you can’t be a teacher. You don’t get to decide what people should believe. You also don’t get to comment on science based on that unsupported belief. If you want a voice, publish a paper on it and see how that goes. But deciding what is and isn’t true based on unsupported belief is unethical. You don’t get to decide what is and isn’t constitutional to teach to other people’s children.

The law does.

People place their trust in service providers to give them that service without judgment, for why would they offer the service if they judged those who use it?

Some people violate that trust, by refusing to do that job or give that service and by offering a moral judgment instead they violate it twice over.

People talk about how moderate belief is not harmful.

It is if it is unsupported.

The fact is that belief informs action is what makes it so.

Your beliefs inform your actions and if they are unsupported beliefs then your actions will be unjustified.

If those actions keep you from doing a job fully and without open moral judgment on those who place their trust in you, then you are not fit to perform that job and you are harming those who depend on your service.
You are harming them by denying a legal service that should be accessible to them, and you are harming them in the form of public humiliation in many cases by bringing some very hurtful and personal issues to the fore and in front of people that just don’t need to know.
You are hurting them by ambushing people who trusted you to be understanding of their plight because of the position that you hold.

It is as simple as that.

If you can’t do the job because of your beliefs, then don’t apply for the job!

You simply don’t get to decide what is and isn’t moral for other people.


Teacher Fired for adding Creationism to Subject matter- Here

Pharmacists Refuse Birth Control- Here

Bus Driver Claims Discrimination-Here

Illustration by-Mark Alan Stamaty


  1. I just read the newspaper articles you referenced, and I completely agree with you. Your employer giving you an illegal order that is outside of your job description, sure, it's legitimate to refuse such work. But simply refusing to do your job because of whichever beliefs, that is plain and simple a lack of professionalism, not to mention just being a jackass.

  2. By the by, ever thought about doing a blog piece addressing religious homophobia? I think it would be an interesting read.

  3. I very much want to have a piece on that yes. Very soon.